Vladimir Romanov has grown bored of his Hearts experiment as an investment of tens of millions of pounds failed to change the side from mid-table strugglers into a team capable of something Motherwell seem able to do on significantly less.
Romanov wanted to transform Hearts into the biggest club in Scotland but failed to address the structural limitations of the club. While Hearts may be the biggest team in Edinburgh, Edinburgh is a net exporter of football fans, Tynecastle is squeezed into a cramped corner of the city and provides very little opportunity to harvest corporate income, and, in case you haven’t noticed, there were two well-established competitors in a larger, net-import city with ample corporate income opportunities.
Various Hearts boards have looked to relocate the club or extend facilities at Tynecastle without much headway being made. A bid of £22m was received from a house builder for the stadium some years ago but without a viable alternative the deal stalled.
A viable alternative could come onto the market soon.
If Rangers go out of business Romanov is in a unique position to take advantage. Craig Whyte holds a floating charge on Ibrox and Murray Park but any bid in excess of his liability, which would be considerably less than the value of the properties, which have a book value of £139m, would secure both pieces of real estate.
Hearts could sell Tynecastle and Hearts training ground, raising enough funds to considerably offset what they would need to pay to secure Ibrox, if not provide a surplus, and establish foothold in the Glasgow market to complement their historical Edinburgh fan base. One club would have a pull on a huge proportion of Scotland’s two largest cities.
At a stroke Romanov would ensure his club were for all time, at the very least, the second largest team in Scotland, and, eventually, could push Celtic for top spot.
It would be a ballsy move, but if you want to create a super-club you need to think a little creatively.